This post originally appeared on Southwestraleigh.com where you can learn more about how to live, work, and play in the Creative District.
Even though the Historic Yates Mill County Park has only been open for less than six years, Yates Mill dates back to the early 1800’s and is the only gristmill still standing in Wake County. Throughout the mill’s history it changed ownership about a dozen times and the park is now owned through a partnership between NC State, Yates Mill Associates, Wake County, and the NC Dept of Agr & Consumer Services.
Historic Yates Mill County Park is located at 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, about 3 miles south of I-40/440. After winding down a short entrance road you arrive at a large parking lot with a beautiful research and education center as the backdrop. The A.E. Finley Education and Research Center is a beautiful stone and wood building that contains an exhibit hall, classrooms, auditorium, and back porch complete with rocking chairs overlooking the pond. They offer programs for people of all ages and here are just a few upcoming events to highlight:
- Feb 17-20: 15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count – annual four-day event that encourages bird watchers of all ages to count and report their results.
- Feb 20 (10-11am, $4/child, ages 3-5): Little Historians Presidents’ Day – read a story, make a craft, and celebrate great leaders
- March – November (Sat/Sun, times/fees vary): Corn Grinding Demonstrations
- March 17 (10am-4pm): Blacksmithing Demo
After you’ve finished exploring the Park Center, head to one of the trails for a walk out and around the pond. We explored the Millpond Trail (1 mile), which loops around the pond offering breathtaking views of the wildlife, water, and flora. On this trail, you’ll pass by the old mill and dam, boardwalks along the pond that are great for fishing, several picnic areas, the Field Classroom, and tree markers that correspond to the “Tree Identification Trail” brochure at the Park Center. Even though it’s an unpaved path, it’s quite wide and flat but not suitable for strollers in all areas. Being a beautiful sunny day, I passed quite a few people jogging the trail too. Whatever you do, be sure to stop by the mill yard and dam and take tons of pictures!
The two other trails we didn’t have time for today are the High Ridge Trail and the Creekside Trail. The trail map shows that High Ridge Trail is more strenuous and about .78 miles and connects up with the Millpond Trail. Creekside Trail is an out and back unpaved trail that is 2 miles in total length.
This park is jam-packed with activities and sights, but also has several peaceful areas if you just want to relax a bit. Try your luck fishing from one of the boardwalks, enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the many spots along the Millpond Trail, or take a nap in the rocking chairs on the back porch. So, whether you came for excitement and learning or quiet time and reflection there’s something for everyone.
Thumbs up: photo ops, serenity, educational exhibits, pond, mill and dam
Thumbs down: trail maps don’t indicate whether paths are stroller-friendly (thanks to the sweet mom-daughter team that helped us out)